It’s finally back in the game [E3 2009]

I’ve got an E3 post coming up shortly, but I quickly wanted to post how excited I am that EA has announced that the “Create A School” feature is finally back in the game.

This was a mainstay in all the NCAA games I played on the Gamecube and has been sorely missed in the recent 360 versions. I’ve already played around with the create-a-school website and I whole-heartedly approve.

I just wish I could figure out how to link directly my team (The North Royalton University, named after my high school) but if you know how, let me know. Here’s a screen grab of my unis:

Create a Team

If You Build It, He Will Come

My sports hero had a great day today–a grand slam and three run homer.

pujols

…oh and after only two days of play, I’m calling MLB 09 The Show the greatest sports game of all time.

Busy Buckeyes

I’ve been super busy this week, but obviously not around these parts. I’ve been working into the wee hours of the morning over at my Ohio State blog in preparation for one of, if not the, biggest college football games this season, Ohio State vs. USC.

That’s not to say I’m neglecting my video games. Not at all. In fact, we had just put in a bunch of time with the Geometry Wars 2 multiplayer modes. Absolutely fantastic. I didn’t think Pacifism would work with more than one person, but it is a riot with three people.

So stick with me over the next couple days. I’ll still be around, my mind is just elsewhere. If you don’t follow college football and you don’t hear from me in a week, you can rest assured things didn’t go how I had hoped.

[2 Minute Review] Top Spin 3

Should I break a sweat playing a sports game?

Well, I maybe didn’t break a sweat, but I did cramp my brain.

DO: Play possibly the most realistic tennis game ever. Overhand smashes, drop shots at the net and grunts that would make Maria Sharapova proud. (Okay, maybe that was just me)

TYPE: Tennis (hopefully that’s obvious).

PLATFORM: Xbox 360 (also available on everything else but the PC).

PRICE: $59.99 on the 360.

MEAT: On the surface, it’s another sports game. Where Top Spin 3 really shines is its complexity. At times it can be extremely difficult and hard to get used to, but it becomes second nature pretty quickly. The tutorials are very well done, and get deep fast. It may be a surprise, but I’m not a professional tennis player. So I can’t say if this “feels” right, but some of the shots definitely feel like they should.

There’s a career mode, of course, which I spent most of my time in. There’s nothing new here. Play some matches, get some points to get better skills, rinse, repeat. It’s fun, it’s addictive and I’ll be playing this much more. Oh, and the character creator? My daughter could have played with that for hours. Yay for electronic paper dolls!

PERKS: We’re getting dangerously close to the uncanny valley. Not sure if that’s a perk?

SCREAMS: Nothing new? Even though this is the first Top Spin game I’ve played, I’ve played enough sports games to know there’s only so much improvement can be made. It also can be insanely complex if you want it to.

VERDICT: For most gamers, this is a rental. Tennis fans and sports fans know what they’re getting and are more likely to pick it up. It’s a good buy for a specific group of gamers. You know whether you are in that group or not. If you’re not, you probably won’t be playing this.

World Golf Tour

World Golf TourI have been meaning to blog about this for literally months. I get countless hits from Google with people searching for MMO Sports Games (I have a couple posts on the subject). I still feel strongly that eventually someone is going to figure out a viable MMO Sports Game. I think golf is probably going to be the game that succeeds in this genre. Shot-Online came close, but the cartoony golf game never grabbed me. Enter World Golf Tour.

I actually first read about WGT in Fortune Magazine, of all places. The article raves about how realistic it felt and how it is the future of online sports gaming. With that kind of praise, I had to check it out.

World Golf Tour

It’s a pretty solid little golf game. As far as I can tell, there’s only a 9-hole demo at PGA Charity site, but the company behind WGT seems to have raised a decent amount of funding, and has a backing from TaylorMade Golf (my personal club of choice).

World Golf Tour

Graphically, WGT is beautiful. The mouse controls almost feel natural. The Tiger Woods swing stick is still my favorite but WGT’s controls aren’t bad. It’s hard to gauge all aspects of the game, due to the fact that right now, you can only play a closest-to-the-pin challenge. Hopefully that will change soon in future beta tests.

World Golf Tour

I am intrigued so far. It will be interesting to see how good WGT turns out to be. With things like friends lists, teams and other options, WGT could give Shot-Online a run for its MMOGolf money.

Catch me if you can!

I can’t stop laughing at this video from EA’s NCAA 09 (h/t EDSBS). I was briefly considering a purchase of this game following Bill Abner’s initial reports, but those became less enthusiastic. Then Bill Harris pretty much took the wind out of the sails. This video pretty much capsized the boat.

This is just ridiculous. Even if the CPU sliders were tweaked, this kind of behavior should never happen in a football game. Even Pee Wee football games aren’t this bad.

So now NCAA 09 is on my Gamefly Q, slowly bubbling to the top. I’m not particularly anxious to play it with so many other options at the moment. Which is a shame, because I’m a huge college football fan.

Video is embedded after the jump. (Thank you, EA, for giving us the ability to embed.)
[Read more…]

Comic Watch [Fox Trot]

Bill Amend nails the popular webcomics good. I wonder what they each thought of being included in Fox Trot?

(I’d think it was pretty cool)

Link.

Customizable NCAA 09 Covers

First of all, did you know Wal-Mart had a Blog? Not just a blog, but a rather large, multi-authored blog? I sure didn’t.

Anyway, I’ve railed for a long time that EA should offer regional covers for their sports games, but more specifically, for the NCAA 0X series. I don’t mind buying a college football game with Reggie Bush or Jared Zabransky on the cover, but as a Buckeye fan, I’d be much more inclined to get one with Troy Smith or Vernon Gholston on my cover.

Well, this year for NCAA 09, you can do just that. You can “customize” your NCAA cover to fit your fandom. But, it’s exclusively available at Sam’s Club:

Sam’s Club will be the ONLY retailer to offer OFFICIAL EA alternative cover images. What does this mean to you? Well, if you are like me and NOT a Razorback fan (almost illegal here in Arkansas, I still will not to that “wooooo pig” thing), you can put an image from a selection of images on YOUR box front at no additional charge.

It’s a very cool idea, but it looks like it’s being executed poorly. First of all, the example posted at the Check Out blog, with the Lucky Charm Leprechaun, looks like a character model from the game. If they use mascots from the game engine as the cover pictures, that is pretty lame. If they’re not using actual photographs, this is a bad idea. And I know there are licensing agreements and NFL player associations to deal with, but it would be really cool if they worked it out to have a few fan favorites from each team available for covers. That would make it an instant buy.

And for those wondering, here’s my dream cover:

NCAA 09 Cover

(And by “dream cover,” I mean that literally. I dream about buying NCAA 09 with Mount Vernon on the cover. Nightly)

[Cross posted at my other blog, for obvious reasons]

In [Nat’s] Hands: FFVII:Crisis Core and Okami

I am torn. As hard as I try, I cannot play two games at once.

I’ve only played one Final Fantasy game all the way through. In fact, I played it to almost 100% completion. That’s not entirely true. In college, my PSOne was powered on for a single semester. It played one game the entire time: Final Fantasy VII. There were six of us who would play off the same saved game file. We did everything. Everything. It’s probably one of the fondest gaming memories I’ll ever have. Sometimes, we’ll still chat about it through email.

I’m not a big Final Fantasy fan. I’ve played the aforementioned title and I’ve played FFIX. See, it’s never really a final fantasy. They just keep making more. Actually, I’m more of a chrono-guy.

That’s my setup. Here’s my reveal.

On a whim (I allow myself two “whims” a year) I picked up FFVII: Crisis Core for the PSP. Simply put, this title is currently my PSP Game of the Year. I cannot get enough of it. It’s one of those titles that just hooks you and you never really know why. Maybe it’s the excellent story and presentation, maybe it’s the best cinematic cutscenes of any game I’ve seen, or maybe it’s all the great references to the original game? (Better yet, this game is a prequel and it still has future references).

FFVII:Crisis Core

This game has enveloped me so deep that I want Zack to be Cloud in the FFVII game. The character progression and growth is written in such a way that you don’t even realize it’s happening until you go remember back to where you started.

Now there is a fault. I hate, HATE, HATE the DMW. It’s basically a slot machine that you have no control over that interrupts combat sequences. It’ll occasionally level your character up and toss some bonuses your way. It’ll constantly break the flow of excitement during battle. Necessary? No.

If I was to rate this game, I’d give it a 10. The DMW (I keep wanting to say DMV) makes it an 8. Harsh? Yes. However, Square Enix have been making excellent games for almost 20 years. They should know better.

Okami

A week ago I picked up Okami for the Wii. Roger Ebert knows nothing when it comes to games—maybe even art. This game is art in motion, a moving picture worth ten thousand words, a watercolor that doesn’t fade, a…well, you get the idea. Be ready to read as well. A lot. However, it’s all excellent.

I’m only one hour in to the game and it’s been the most unique hour of gaming I’ve ever experienced. How do I describe it? You’re a goddess who has been reincarnated as a white wolf. You mist rid the land of darkness and bring it back to life. Your weapon: a brush.

Yep. You solve problems, rejuvenate nature, experience combat, and paint the town red with your trusty brush. It’s wonderful. This game was made for the Wiimote. The execs at Capcom must be prophets considering the game was made in 2006.

I’m told this game could net a person 40 hours of playtime. Excellent. This may be a game where I do it all. I really don’t have the patience for RPGs, but this may be my exception.

I just find it interesting that the only two games I’m playing right now are RPGs.

Oh, and Ikaruga.

State of Sports Games

A while ago, Bill Abner had a piece at the Escapist about the Stagnant State of Sports Games. I meant to link it back then because it was a good read, but never got around to it. So I’m linking it now.

I was reminded of Bill’s article because today I also came across this post from Zack Hiwiller (via a long list of places, originating with Troy) about the State of Sports Games:

How many people out there watch and enjoy football without having a Knute Rockney [sic] level of understanding? The answer is: more than the games industry is hitting right now.

Zack makes a lot of good points, go read the whole thing. This is coming from a game designer working on sports games, not a games journalist. Not sure if that fact makes me a little more optimistic about the future of sports games or not.